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I bought this pump before our son was born, intending to breastfeed but also express every now and again to allow my hubbie to do some of the night feeds. Then 2 things happened: firstly, my son and I proved to be an appalling pair at breastfeeding. He couldn't seem to latch on properly, couldn't feed properly and no matter how much help I got from the midwife and health visitor it was very inefficient agony! And secondly he started sleeping through the night from the age of 3 weeks (I know - don't hate me!), negating anyone needing to get up in the night to feed him.
I was determined to get some breastmilk into our son, so started to combine formula with expressed breastmilk (supplemented with breastfeeding when he'd do it). I used this pump initially, but was recommended by the health visitor to get hold of a hired one from the NCT, which she said would be more effective than a usual pump and allow me to provide breastmilk for longer.
The one I hired was excellent - very efficient and not too loud (though the clunking noise it makes does start eating into your brain after a while). This one, on the other hand, is INCREDIBLY LOUD! But it's not just that that put me off - it's also the vibration. It's a bit like squeezing your boob into a small cup attached to one of those machines they use to flatten road surfaces...
It is pretty efficient and fairly fast, so it does what it should. Hiring a hospital-grade breast-pump is 50 quid for the first month and then 30 quid per month thereafter (that includes the disposable collection kit). That's very expensive - we spent £110 on pump hire. BUT, it enabled me to feed our son with at least some breast milk every single day since he was born, and you can't put a price on that.
This pump cost me £55, and it's enabling me to feed him for the last couple of weeks to take us to 4 months, after which I will almost certainly call it a day. There are cheaper hand pumps out there, but they seemed like hard work, and I'd recommend doing everything you can to make it easy to express - it's hard enough to be motivated to put your boob in a mangle without having to give yourself wrist-strain as well!
Although you can increase and decrease the strength of the suction on this pump, you can't alter the speed. Better machines (like the Ameda Elite I hired) have adjustable suction and speed, which makes it easier to mimic the suckling action of a baby - babies start with quick sucks and then settle down into slower, more rhythmic suckling. You get the best results with a pump if you do the opposite of what you do when breastfeeding, and express from one side, then the other, then back to the first side again so you end up expressing from each side 4 or 5 times.
The other down-side of this pump is that the controls are on the opposite side of the pump from you when you're using it so you can't see what you're doing when you try to change the suction level. Controls on the top would be a big improvement.
On the up-side, it is both battery and mains powered, so it's very portable. It chews through batteries though, so I'd suggest using it plugged into the mains where possible.
All the bits that need to be sterilised can be sterilised, which is great.
The recommendation to buy is a bit of a close call - it's one of the best domestic pumps out there but it still has its faults...